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We Cast a Shadow: A Novel

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  258 ratings  ·  75 reviews
A bold, provocative debut for fans of Get Out and Paul Beatty's The Sellout , about a father who will do anything to protect his son--even if it means turning him white.

How far would you go to protect your child?

Our narrator faces an impossible decision. Like any father, he just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is growing larg
Kindle Edition, 323 pages
Published January 29th 2019 by One World
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  258 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel, We Cast A Shadow, is an incisive and necessary work of brilliant satire. Set in the post-post-racial South, We Cast a Shadow tells the story of a man, one of the few black men at his law firm, desperate to pay for his biracial son to undergo demelanization, desperate to “fix” what he sees as his son’s fatal flaw. It is this desperation that drives this novel, that haunts this novel and in this desperation, we see just how pernicious racism is, how irrevocably ...more
(Bern) Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas
3.75 thought-provoking stars for this racially charged work of satirical fiction!

Set in a satirical future south, We Cast a Shadow tells the racially fueled dystopian story of a black man desperate to pay for his biracial son's demelanization process. In this future world race is still an issue of injustice. The only way to truly level the playing field is for black Americans to undergo an expensive procedure which turns them white - on the cellular level.

Does that sound far fetched to you? Th
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3+ stars

We Cast a Shadow is a dystopian satire — if there is such a genre. Intellectually, I thought it was brilliant. But I must admit that I didn’t love reading it. It was a question of genre and style rather than content. Set at some point in the future in the US, life for African Americans has become an exaggeration of what it is today. Levels of surveillance and incarceration are very high. There are fenced ghettos. Etc... The narrator identifies himself as one of the 10% lucky enough to av
Lark Benobi
I don't know if it's fair to compare anything at all to Invisible Man but I can't think of another novel that includes the same mix of high satire and terrifying truth as does this debut from Maurice Carlos Ruffin.

Ellison is clearly on Ruffin's mind here. Ruffin's opening sentences pay slant homage to the first lines of Invisible Man--only, Ruffin manages to be even less hopeful than Ellison about the nature of black identity within a white-majority culture.

Here is Ellison:

I am an invisible m
Release date January 29th!

We Cast a Shadow is a debut novel by Maurice Carlos Ruffin that takes place in the near future. Still plagued by racial discrimination blacks now have the option to achieve ultimate assimilation.

The story follows an unnamed African American male narrator who seems to have risen above his natal station in life. Working as a lawyer in a prestigious law firm he is willing to do anything to placate his superiors, even masquerade as typical stereotypes to advance his career
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I began to write this review, I asked myself: how do I write this review in such a way that I don’t offend white people?

And then the irony of that question hit me like a punch in the gut.

In We Cast a Shadow, our main character and most black Americans have spent their lives not only trying not to offend white people, but trying to amuse them, cater to them, and, yes, be them. You see in our near future tale, those with money enough can have a series of procedures to become white. Why do they
A Necessary Read!

A brilliantly unsettling tale set in the not-so-distance future southern state, a Black father seeks to ensure that his biracial son lives his life to his fullest potential, which means not to be identified as a Black man.

A well-thought out plot skillfully executed as every action and character shines on the reality that society fully endorses oppression of Blacks through containment, violence, and poverty.

I was compulsively turning the pages as I felt the this near-future cree
Tad Bartlett
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Spoiler-free, as much as possible)
Maurice Ruffin performs writer magic in We Cast a Shadow. As the book opens, the reader is settled comfortably into a clever and biting satirical world where race plays a sharpened role in the butcher's shop of office politics of an old-line law firm. The time could be now, and we don't get the sense that if it's not now that it's too far off in the future. The cultural referents and the social/political critiques come fast and furious, as you would expect in s
Kasa Cotugno
This is the latest novel to explain and deal with the issue of racism in America employing fantasy, magic realism, dystopian concepts, call it what you will. From Underground Railway, to White Tears, to Underground Airlines, to Sing Unburied Sing, among others, authors have eschewed reality because the subject matter is too painful to deal with and offer alternative worlds in which to address the subject. Mostly, as here, they are satirical, thusly carrying an undercurrent of rage, quite appropr ...more
3.5 stars. We Cast a Shadow is a sharp satire about race in America. It's set in a dismal, nearish future, when race relations have devolved from where they are today. It's set in an unnamed city in the south (though I think New Orleans based on the references to parishes), with an unnamed narrator, a black man who is desperate to afford a treatment that will make his biracial son white. While it starts out rather humorous in tone, the story soon becomes dark and devastating, and while the scena ...more
Maurice Ruffin
Feb 14, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I like the cover.
Kara Leann
Thank you to One World and Random House for providing a free copy via Netgalley.
This beautifully written book is thought provoking and very timely given the society we are living in today. I thought it gave a scary insight into what we could become if we leave the racism in today's society unchecked. I really enjoyed that the story was told from the father's perspective. I loved seeing how far he was willing to go to protect his son even when it was questionable. My favorite part was the reunion
Jaclyn Crupi
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My literary happy place – brilliantly cutting satire. In the tradition of Delicious Foods, The Sellout, Welcome to Braggsville and Blackass, We Cast a Shadow uses razor sharp satire to dissect racism in America. It’s piercing, perceptive and provocative. It’s funny and weird and disorienting. It’s glorious and timely and just really damn good.
Ruffin is a masterful writer, bold, satiric, and filled with dark humor. Many people will be drawn to his style as he powerfully elucidates the problem of racism in this novel. Nigel, a biracial child of a black father and white mother presents to the world a white complexion "tainted" by an ever-growing black birthmark . His father, a lawyer in a firm that has few blacks, is fervently trying to make partner so he can give his son a whitening treatment to help him achieve further success in a wo ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was touted as being in the same ballpark as Sellout and Get Out. It might have seemed like a good idea to throw this in with two such popular things, but for me it was a turn off. Though I’m glad not so much as to prevent from checking it out. Initial attraction was that gorgeous striking cover. Plus I was interested to see if it is indeed possible to write a good modern book about race. Sellout, despite all its acclaim and awards, for me didn’t do the trick. Get Out was a paranoid rac ...more
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I really disliked this book. The premise is so ridiculous that I couldn't even take it seriously. There is enough racial tension in the world. Why write a book that will make this situation worse? I don't respect the author in this context. It's an unnecessary plague of ideas.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this was an experience. We have an unnamed Black narrator in an unnamed Southern town sometime in “post post” racial America. Race relations have bottomed out- police surveil Black neighborhoods using infrared cameras, they can legally shave people’s heads against their will, and 9 out of 10 Black men have done jail time for offenses as innocuous as arguing. These men and women do not have a say and barely have a vote- felons can’t vote and the children of felons need a voucher from an u ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The tale starts at a work function with the main protagonist in costume, he decides to settle for Centurion instead of Nat Turner, all in the pursuit of happiness as a black man trying make a step up in a white law firm. The main characters pursuit of happiness is one where his son will eventually become white with no trace of black or that of his kids of the future, and getting ahead as white, he tells us of this with this tragic satire in a terrible world no one wants. 

Readjust your comfort zo
This outstanding debut novel is one of the best, most morally challenging books I've ever read. For the same reason I love Jodi Picoult's works (SMALL GREAT THINGS is a favorite), this book forced me to think beyond myself and put myself in other's shoes. Really, what higher compliment can I give a book?

Extremely well-written, WE CAST A SHADOW by Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a fictional satire about future race relations in America. In this post-racial society taking place in an unnamed Southern cit
Brittany | brittanyfiiasco
(@randomhouse #partner)
finished We Cast A Shadow by @mauriceruffin! before reading this book, I don’t believe I have read much satire. I say that because I think this was a pretty important experience for me. reading this book, I felt frustrated and overwhelmed by each complicated complexity that contributed to the development of each character. I took intentional breaks to process what I was feeling, and it wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized I need to lean into that discomfort
Kaylie (
Honestly I should have 2 separate reviews for my feelings.
Part of me can’t get over how timely this novel is. While it’s supposed to be satire, I could see it happening in real life. This is a warning shot, a sign of what could be if we don’t check our ways. The concept, the characters I adored.
Unfortunately, I struggled to connect to the book. Perhaps it’s just me, maybe I’m just not connecting to books like I should. The current review trajectory is 4+, which is phenomenal for Goodreads. I wa

Probably the most literary work to date that without pretenses attacks racial issues of today, but puts it in a not to distant future. The narrator, who never states his name; tries to balance what he thinks is good for his son and what is right no matter the personal cost. (hint: it's a lot) The prose reminds me of a cross between Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go and 1984. Without a doubt this book flirts with a toleration state. With every turn it has its narrator see a world that he both kno
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
3.5 Stars

This comes off as a satire but I think it goes deeper then that. At times, the book goes into brilliance with its descriptions and depictions of what African Americans deal with in society. The casual mentions of subtle or not subtle racist observations or assumptions made as well as over arching government policies. Other times, the book tried too hard to be clever that I ended up confusing myself. Regardless, the book pulled off the ending, which is difficult in a social commentary.

Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every review of this book will talk about the brilliance of satire. And, yes, it's is utterly outstanding. I, however, read this book and could easily picture Jordan Peele making this into a movie that wins Oscars and every possible award known to man.

In post-post racial South, we meet a man working his way to the top of a law firm, with one major goal - to earn enough money to pay for this son's demelanization. This dystopian future is so familiar - and not too far off from our current politic
I have pretty complicated feelings on this book that are difficult to state without major spoilers, so I will say as much as I can without giving too much away. The overall premise of the book is that a deliberately nameless black male main character living in a near-future version of the American South wants his bi-racial son to have a better, easier life. The book follows the main character and his family as he jumps through progressively more absurd hoops in a quest to do anything to protect ...more
Donna Hines
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, netgalley
Surviving racism in America has just taken on a whole new look with this wonderful new satire by Maurice Carlos Ruffin.
Just how far would a parent be willing to go to protect their own?
Nigel's birthmark is expanding and his father decides to prevent the hatred and seek a new medical treatment in hopes for a better life for his beloved son. The procedure is controversial in changing the color of his skin in becoming more white.
The violence we inherited is at the front of this amazing new read.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nigel is a bi-racial son in a possible near future. Racism is on the rise, even worse and more blatant than in today's reality. Society, and Nigel's father, have determined that the only real way to succeed are to become white, ala Michael Jackson though he is not mentioned. Demelanization and plastic surgery to change facial features to appear more white are big commodities. Nigel's dad can't afford them despite his position at a well-established law firm. Through the course of the story, he ju ...more
Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5* - This incisive, semi-satirical novel is every bit as dark and compelling as any form of literary realism. Ruffin may have written a cutting satire, but his poignant story of a black father who will stop at absolutely nothing to do what he thinks will give his son a better life doesn’t seem at all far-fetched. Set in an America even more racist than the America of today, We Cast a Shadow confronts the horrors of institutional racism. Ruffin’s unnamed black narrator endures constant humiliat ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this book, i tried and tried and tried, but i literally could find no interest in it. The first chapter had me so hyped it was amAzing and then i struggled to regain footing after that. The concept is such an amazing eye opening idea and i loved the synopsis, the writing just didn’t do anything for me, and it slowed down immensely and became sporadic. I sadly skimmed the middle 100 pages bc i was that bored, maybe I’ll be able to go back and try this book again but for now it ju ...more
Jan 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really wish they would not have compared the book to Get Out. I spent so much of my time wondering What on Earth they were talking about. If I absolutely had to relate this to a movie it would be more of a Boots Riley flick.

The novel was completely original, interesting, and well-written, while still pushing the edge - there were many times I felt extremely uncomfortable with the characters. In the end it gives you a lot to digest and a substantial amount to feel. I feel torn because I did no
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